Although the term immature is used to refer to the process of growth in the adult world, in this case, we are talking about maturity in emotions.
Although the term immature is used to refer to the process of growth in the adult world, in this case, we are talking about maturity in emotions. What does it mean to be emotionally immature, and why is this not a trivial issue?
The presence of one of these characteristics does not imply that we can define ourselves as emotionally immature. The following are guidelines but have no diagnostic meaning. Emotional immaturity is a condition that can change with growth. Maturity is a process, and not everyone is necessarily at the same stage.
What is emotional immaturity?
An emotionally immature subject assumes childlike behavior that is ultimately inappropriate for his or her chronological and emotional age. Here are 5 signs that this is a condition that could also affect you.
1) Hijacking conversations
A variety of behaviors can fall into this category. For example, immature people avoid those conversations that go beyond superficiality. They feel a kind of discomfort when their emotions, past mistakes, or anything that involves reflection and introspection is brought to light.
They bury everything that has painful emotional consequences, preferring to avoid what produces suffering rather than trying to work on it. This category also includes the inability of an immature person to take responsibility for his or her actions, struggling to admit fault, looking for the simplest solution, i.e. to blame someone else (Heitler, 2016).
2) Being self-centered
Dr. Susan Heitler is said to have pointed out that egocentrism and in some ways narcissism are often associated with emotional immaturity. Like children, adults suffering from emotional immaturity may exhibit a significant search for attention from others. People with these characteristics have difficulty understanding the other’s point of view and understanding something beyond their needs and benefits (Heitler 2016). The focus is only on what is best for them, and even when faced with a valid alternative; it is difficult to shift their perspective and make them look outside themselves.
3) low capacity for emotional regulation
It is common that, like children, emotionally immature adults can throw tantrums and lose their temper (Heitler 2016). For example, when they feel uncomfortable listening to what the other person is reporting, instead of trying to think before exposing their own, they pull the plug on everything that comes into their heads with no filter (Heiter 2016). There is really no analysis other than a search for elements capable of proving their reason. Everything is seen in a dichotomous way between good and evil in the discussion and there seems to be no real attempt to restore “peace” and move forward (Heitler 2016).
4) Being manipulative and defensive
It is quite common for emotionally immature people to exhibit defensive behavior. When confronted with a problem, they can easily deny responsibility, meticulously defend each of their actions, lie about any involvement or responsibility they have for an event to the point of offending the other person in order to intimidate them (Lamothe 2020). It is important to emphasize that there is a big difference between trying to explain yourself to show your point of view in an argument and defending yourself to be right at all costs and getting away with it with no guilt.
In the second option, we face emotionally immature behavior. Inadvertently, being always on the defensive, also hides another element, namely emotional manipulation (Gibson, 2019). If you are in a relationship with an emotionally immature person, you may be repeatedly subjected to demands to violate your personal space. Emotional manipulation involves inducing feelings of shame, guilt, and worthlessness in you as you try to keep those spaces intact. In these cases, it is essential to emphasize that maintaining spaces and boundaries is your right and does not make you a bad person.
5) Depend on others
In order to feel secure, emotionally immature people have dependent relationships with others. They show a kind of discomfort in being alone, as loneliness forces them to deal directly with their thoughts and emotions. Being with others allows them to distract themselves from something emotionally unpleasant that they would prefer to repress. To feel their emotions fully and be introspective, they need adequate emotional maturity.
The ability to reflect on one’s mental and emotional states allows us to know ourselves better. This is how we learn and grow as people. For those who are emotionally immature, being able to understand the way they think and feel emotions could terrify, for this reason, they opt for the simplest solution, which is to “put the dust under the rug”.
Although we are not talking about a disorder, emotional immaturity has consequences and can provide us with many clues about the origin and functioning of many psychopathologies. Emotional immaturity can have significant effects on the interpersonal level, i.e., within friends, love, and family relationships. However, working on the aspects that characterize affective immaturity is possible in order to improve one’s personal balance within the relational dimensions. Overall, it is a growth process that can take place with certain gradualness. Maturity is not a characteristic present or not present, but something that can evolve.
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